A bird took up residence in a bucket on a woman’s porch. Her heart went out to this fragile creature. She carefully moved the bucket to provide more shelter for her feathered friend. Then, suddenly, her beloved dog gulped down the bird, and, that was that. She felt sadness, of course, yet acceptance for the dog who was, after all, only doing what dogs do. I see the essential elements of life in this story, especially with a few additions. I would add multiplicity. It helps to love in multiples, avoiding having all our eggs in one basket/bucket. Another element is grief for each loss. Plus, we need repetition. It helps to keep extending our love, putting effort into continuing to love, over and over, even though we know we’ll keep having our hearts broken, over and over.
I’m putting the emphasis on loving, not being loved. Being loved back is wonderful, but I believe loving, even without reciprocation, is powerful enough to generate fulfillment. Some of our love will come back to us, maybe in such a strange way as a bird taking up residence in an old bucket on our porch.
In our efforts to love in multiples, it helps to extend our love beyond creatures who die and can reject us to things like words, clouds, rocks.
Grief, as awful as it feels, is the cleansing/renewal element. It honors both the lost love and ourselves as the lover, allowing us to flow on to new loves.
I remember how sad I felt when I held my cat Philip as he died in my arms. I think I felt even more distraught when Herbie, my next cat, died on my wife’s lap as I sat stroking him. Then Isaac, “my fine fat photogenic feline.” came and went. Now I love my Chico and Uno who I wouldn’t have if Isaac had not passed away young and unexpectedly. I feel fulfilled, even though I miss Isaac when I flip by his pictures on my iPhone.
Fulfillment takes a willingness to keep moving forward, to pick ourselves up and put ourselves in a position to fall in love again, to never say “my life is over.” It might help to keep an old bucket on the porch, just in case.